The Wireless LAN, also known as WLAN, is a popular way to connect devices such as computers. It is an alternative way of communication in offices and homes compared to wired LAN due to its easy installation, convenience to connect various devices, cost-effectiveness, and easy maintenance.
If you have WLANs, there is no need to be connected physically through any medium such as cables. You can roam around freely on office premises, at home, or around. Second, WLANs are cost-effective. Cabling in the offices, hotels, etc., is not needed. So it‟s cheap and provides the same quality of service.
WLAN signals can reach out to unreachable spots where a cable is hardly accessible. They make surfing outdoors convenient. Four, there is less interruption and easy troubleshooting in case of failures as compared to cabled networks. Finally, it is more secure as most APs support the best encryption methods, which protect them from sniffing and other attacks.
However, WLAN is also as prone to various attacks as their counterpart wired LNAs are. WLANs are easier to hack than wired LANs if not properly configured due to their easy accessibility around the installation. No need to be in contact with physical wires to hack can be done from anywhere. Its convenience can turn into a serious risk to the organization if not configured properly. Major attacks include Sniffing, Key cracking, DoS (Denial of Service), Deauthentication attacks, Wardriving, etc.
Wireless security mainly depends on these three factors:
- How well-protected is your wireless network in terms of encryption?
- Monitoring for suspicious and unusual activities.
- User awareness and education.
When compared to wired networks, protecting a home wireless network is a completely different ballgame. By default, most wireless network device vendors and Internet service providers don’t provide any security settings, leaving the customer to fend for herself. As a result, make sure your network is protected against malicious use. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for securing your wireless network infrastructure. Yet, this post will provide some countermeasures you can follow to secure your wireless network to the highest level.
Best practices to protect your home wireless
1. Make your wireless network invisible
Wireless access points can announce their presence to wireless-enabled devices. It is referred to as “identifier broadcasting” and is desirable in certain situations. For instance, an internet cafe would want its customers to easily find its access point. However, if you’re the only one who needs to know you have a wireless network in your home, it is better to make your network invisible to others. You can check your access point’s user manual for instructions on disabling identifier broadcasting.
2. Rename your wireless network
Many wireless access point devices come with a default name. These names, referred to as the “service set identifier” (SSIS) or “extended service set identifier” (ESSID), are widely known and can be used to gain unauthorized access to your network. Therefore, you should rename your network and choose a name that others won’t easily guess.
3. Encrypt your network traffic
Even if you use complex passwords to protect your wireless network, it can be broken and decrypted within minutes or hours. Therefore, it is necessary to use industry-standard encryptions and encrypt traffic passing between your wireless access point device and your computers. You convert it to a code that computers can only understand with the correct key to that code by encrypting wireless traffic.
4. Change your administrator password
Every wireless router comes with default usernames/passwords. Sometimes, people don’t change them and keep using them for a long time. Studies show that most users use the same combination of username/passwords as set by manufacturers. Default passwords for various manufacturers are widely known and can be used to gain unauthorized access to your network. Some default username combinations are admin/admin or admin/password. Make sure to change the default password and set an administrator password that is long and contains nonalphanumeric characters (such as #, $, and &) and does not contain personal information (such as your birth date).
5. Use firewall
Firewalls are built into all wireless routers. Enable all of the security features for them. Any anonymous ping requests should be blocked, and website browsing should be restricted if necessary. Define and implement additional security policies.
6. Keep your software up to date
From time to time, the manufacturer of your wireless access point will release updates to the device software or patches to repair bugs. Check the manufacturer’s website for software updates or patches regularly.
7. Turn off the router while not in use
Last but not least, a little obvious, but it will save your network from all the attacks for that period. Most people leave their router running continuously. Choose to turn their WiFi off when they are not using the network. It will prevent anyone from attempting to connect to your network name.